Oncolytics is currently focused on immunotherapy combinations, including in our clinical studies with Bavencio®, Keytruda®, Opdivo®, Tecentriq®, and Retifanlimab.
Cancers grow in our bodies because our immune systems do not recognize these tumors as foreign or as a threat. They do this by applying the brakes to our immune systems – notably T cells – through receptors called checkpoints. Immunotherapies help our immune systems to recognize and kill cancer. Instead of attacking the tumor directly, immunotherapies leverage the power of a patient’s own immune system, enabling it to attack and kill cancer cells. One way in which immunotherapies do this is by working to prevent tumors from suppressing patient immune systems. For some patients, the suppressive effects of tumor immune suppression are profound. Using checkpoint inhibitors as an example, as few as 1-in-5 patients will respond to checkpoint blockade depending on the indication. Responses could be limited by tumor microenvironments that do not have the key elements required for checkpoint blockade, which include:
Pelareorep has demonstrated the ability to create a more permissive tumor microenvironment and conditions the tumor for multiple treatment combinations, including checkpoint inhibitors and potentially other immuno-oncology drugs, like CAR T therapies, bispecific antibodies, and CDK4/6 and PARP inhibitors. Pelareorep creates a new army of tumor-reactive T cells, causes these cells to infiltrate the tumor through an inflammatory process, and promotes the overexpression of checkpoints, including PD-1/PD-L1. By priming the immune system, we believe we can increase the percentage of patients who respond to immunotherapies and other cancer treatments to open up new indications where they have been limited to date. This vast opportunity is represented by our collaborations with leading oncology companies, including Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche, Incyte, Adlai Nortye, and our Pfizer/Merck KGaA alliance in a variety of solid tumor and hematologic indications.